A sleepy, seaside town is where we meet our protagonists—townsfolk who live simple lives taking walks by the water, listening to the radio, and enjoying one another's company. They come to us from the year 1952, in the midst of a December closing in on Christmas. It is evident that this particular winter season is different from others, as it has yet to snow and the birds have not yet flown to warmer climates.
“The birds, they always seem to know, perhaps they’re trying to tell us something. Maybe it’s a warning.”
RadioTheatre conveys through voice how one event can change life itself
The calm and normalcy that seemed to hover over the town changes over the course of one night when a freak occurrence—countless birds swarming around and violently entering our protagonists’ home—shifts the comfort this young couple once knew.
When morning comes and strewn about the house are 40 to 50 dead “robins, finches, sparrows, larks,” and more, the couple knows that the birds’ appearance were more than suspicious, but instead, malicious. As this story unravels—and the town itself does, too—safety becomes something these townsfolk can only recall in their memories.
Unlike most other RadioTheatre performances of Alfred Hitchcock’s work, THE BIRDS is told partially from the perspective of a third-person, omniscient narrator. As we weave through this narrative, in this reviewer’s opinion, it is the narrator's unbiased and sane accounts that keep us from fully being submerged in the characters’ chaos—which some may fancy, but others may think detracts from the story.
One of Hitchcock’s most famous tales will suit anyone who has a hankering for mystery and whose interests are piqued by chaos. If the former describes you, give THE BIRDS a listen next time you have 35 minutes to spare.
Frank Zilinyi, R.Patrick Alberty, Alejandro Cardozo, Caitlin Boyle, Sarah Gwynne Walker, Annemarie Hagenaars
Dan Bianchi (director/story adapter/sound), Wes Shippee (sound design/tech director)
RadioTheatre poster image courtesy of RadioTheatre NYC; all other images public domain
About the Author: Margaret Smith ( Photo by Mike Rundle )
Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based, multi-genre writer and editor. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, a lover of all-things theater, and a crossword puzzle enthusiast. More of their work can be found on the Better Magazine website.